ESPN Motion for Mac Launched

With our last redesign in 2003, launched a revolutionary video feature called “ESPN Motion”. By downloading high quality video transparently to users’ hard drives, we were able to give our viewers, free of charge, some of the highest quality video on the web, with no waiting, no buffering, and no noticeable encoding artifacts. With a simple installation of the little ESPN ActiveX control, users could watch freshly cut ESPN video right within our front page.

Well, it’s been a little over a year now, and there have been over 3 million downloads of the ESPN Motion installer with hundreds of thousands of active users viewing video every day. Through this trial, it became apparent that given high enough video quality and a wide enough selection of cuts, there really is a place for this sort of multimedia on the web, if you do it right.

Part of “doing it right”, however, is serving the largest audience possible. When we initially launched ESPN Motion, we had to limit the audience to Internet Explorer users on the Windows platform. This limitation was strictly a technological one, as the easiest way to download and access video on a user’s hard drive is by using ActiveX. With this in mind, we designed and engineered our own patent-pending ActiveX control to serve video to all Disney sites. With a 95% market share (for now at least), PC Internet Explorer accounted for the great majority of Disney and ESPN users, so this initial release of Motion at least served most of the market.

Now that Motion has proved to be such a popular addition to, it’s time to bring the feature to our beloved Mac users. We run a ton of Macs at ESPN and Disney, not just in the design department but in engineering as well. With this in mind, the teams in New York and Bristol today bring you ESPN Motion for Mac. By utilizing Flash MX video and plenty of fancy DHTML and CSS goodness, Mac users are now able to view ESPN Motion video without even downloading an installer. In this user’s opinion, it’s an even better experience than the original.

So head on over to the Mac Motion showcase to check it out, or just go to the ESPN front page and look for Motion in the right-hand sidebar.

21 comments on “ESPN Motion for Mac Launched”. Leave your own?
  1. Jeff Croft says:

    1. It’s about time. :)

    2. You guys rock. I loved the Windows version, and the Mac version will be even more useful to me. Keep it up!

  2. So how is the video for the Mac not buffered if there is no background downloader?

    And if you can encapsulate everything in Flash + DHTML couldn’t you potentially have this work on any platform/browser that passes a few Flash and DHTML capability tests?

    Of course, I’m probably way oversimplifying the problem, but one can dream.

  3. Literally the only reason I use IE anymore (instead of Firefox) is because of ESPN Motion. Any timeframe on PC non-IE compatability? Also, it still says Windows and IE for PC required when you go to the download page. Is that just because I’m on a PC right now?

    I’ll try out Mac Motion when I get home, I’m sure it’s awesome.

  4. Brad Daily says:

    Awesome! I have really missed this feature since retiring my last PC, great to see it on the Mac!

  5. Mike D. says:


    Mac Motion is actually progressively downloaded, unlike PC/IE Motion, so you don’t get quite as good video quality. But it doesn’t require an installer and it doesn’t autoplay either, so that’s good. So you sort of have to take the good with the bad. Overall though, I like this version better.

    As for PC non-IE Motion (viz. Firefox), I can’t comment on this yet, and it’s also not my decision to make, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  6. But PC non-IE Motion _is_ technically possible right?
    And what about Firefox on Linux? (It’s up to date on flash) Or is that too much to ask?

    If it’s purely dhtml+flash it should be pretty platform independant…I wonder…

  7. Ryan Berg says:

    Ahh, you’ve just made my day.

    Well, maybe not – but it’s still great news. I noticed it on a few minutes ago and popped over here to see what you had to say. The lack of an installer is a pleasant surprise.

    Way to keep pushing the envelope with, and for letting Mac users join the party.

    I’d also just like to mention that I like so much better now without that MSN waste of space on top (I know it’s been gone for a while, but still felt I’d share my feelings).

  8. Jeff Croft says:


    I finally got home from work to my trusty PowerBook and gave MacMotion a try — I really like it. It’s true, the video quality isn’t as good, but it’ still plenty good enough. I just prefer the non-invasiveness of this version of the Windows version. I like to go and “pull” the video I want, rather than having it “pushed” to me.

    I don’t see any reason this version wouldn’t work under Firefox on Windows. Go ahead and tell the decision-makers at ESPN that I said it was okay for them release it for all platforms. If they don’t, I’ll just fire them.

  9. I actually kinda like it being IE-only since it autoplays. I just use IE for ESPN Motion and Windows Update and Firefox for everyhing else. Although, if ESPN Motion was available autoplay-free for Firefox, then I’d have one less reason to use IE.

  10. Brian says:

    ESPN Motion on my machine decided it wanted to download about 300 megs worth of video. Not sure it would have kept going if I didn’t run out of HD space on the C partition.

  11. Sean says:

    ESPN Motion is a great feature and the only reason I still bother to open up IE, as some one else also stated.

    The sooner a non-browser restricted version can come out the better. I love the way ESPN is showing how css and standards can be used on a major site. I just hope ESPN motion can be ultilized by non-IE browsers in the near future.

  12. Can you comment on why ESPN went with Flash instead of a WMP9 based service on the Mac?
    I saw a screenshot of an ESPN Motion icon in an OS X Dock once, and had assumed that was an implementation of the “download / prebuffer WMP9 video” version of Motion on the Mac.
    Was Windows Media’s Mac performance simply not up to par? Or is the eventual plan to dump the ActiveX control in favor of the Flash plugin?

    FWIW, the Flash version is nice, and appears to be at least as full featured as the existing version, if not moreso. I look forward to seeing it on other Disney sites (, for one).

  13. Brade says:

    I’ve never understood the point of Motion, given that you can watch all the day’s highlights on Sportscenter anyway. I think most people download it just because they’re mesmerized by technology, without really considering how useful it is or isn’t. I used to have it on a previous windows install, but I don’t appreciate things that run in the background and are that resource-intensive, so I quickly got rid of it and don’t use it to this day. Not saying the technology isn’t cool in its own way, but I just question the point of it.

  14. Mr K says:

    I don’t see how if it can work on a Mac it doesn’t work in Firefox or others. It seems crazy to me that you would go to ALL that effort creating a Flash based version that is targeted to run on Macs and you would LIMIT it to just macs … why not just go Flash for the WHOLE thing? This would save ESPN a huge amount of money .. no longer having to encode for ActiveX AND Flash, and alowing visitors to use their choice of Browser.

    I would also have thought that using Flash would open up NEW oportunities for ESPN to use technology such as CENTRAL to stream video directly to the users computer – again regardless of PC or MAC, or Browser.

    Oh well .. nice to see them using Flash, sadly this is NOT enough to get me back to using IE … so untill the Firefox version comes out ….

  15. Motion works in Firefox!!

    I just went to and I noticed the right side acting a little funny. I couldn’t remember if the Motion playlist had always been there in Firefox or not so I clicked on one of the items. Imagine my surprise when the status bar loads up and video starts playing.

    Seems like our voices have been heard! Thanks a million Mike for giving me one less reason to ever touch IE.

  16. bug says:

    This works very well in Firefox on XP. Nice work. Now to get rid of that ActiveX crap….

  17. bzbzb says:

    Has anyone tried ordering ESPN gameplan & watching via in-motion on mac?

  18. Scott says:

    I have an ibook – recently upgraded to Tiger OSX 10.4.6. I cannot get espn motion for the life of me. Adobe flash 7, media player 9, quicktime 7, etc.

    What’s a brotha to do?

  19. Steve says:

    is it possible to save the espn motion videos to my hardrive so i can put together a folder full of videos without having to go to to see them?

  20. ESPN Motion

    I noticed that ESPN Motion for Mac has been launched. It appears that using some clever DHTML, CSS, and Flash, a once IE-only technology has now expanded to just about all popular Mac browsers (Safari, Firefox, and Mozilla have better support then IE f…

  21. Ramblings says:

    ESPN Motion for Firefox and Mac

    Earlier this week Mike Davidson announced ESPN Motion for Mac was being released, and cheers were heard around the world. There was however many questions on why if Mac Motion was made possible “by utilizing Flash MX video and plenty of fancy DHTML and…

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